TAIPEI, (CNA).- The passage of a large fleet of Chinese military warships through the Taiwan Strait earlier this month was a normal occurrence that does not warrant over interpretation, China's defense ministry said Thursday.
The fleet of about 50 vessels of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy sailed through the Taiwan Strait July 20-21 then turned southward, according to reports in Taiwan.
At a regular press briefing, China's defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang (任國強) told reporters that the PLA was conducting live-fire military exercises in the area and the passage of the warships through the Taiwan Strait was not abnormal, according to a news website in Beijing.
There is no need for over interpretation of the voyage, he said, according to the report.
In Taiwan, media reports said the Chinese military warships were forced to traverse the Taiwan Strait because of Tropical Storm Ampil.
China's South Sea Fleet had been sailing northward to conduct a joint drill with the East Sea Fleet in the East China Sea before the storm started moved toward that area, the reports said.
As a result, the East Sea Fleet, headed for the Zhoushan base, veered southward to avoid the storm, according to the reports.
Meanwhile, a tropical depression was also approaching Zhanjiang in Guangdong where the South Sea Fleet is based, which prompted the Navy ships to turn south to return to their base before the weather worsened, according to the reports.
(By Chou Hui-ying and Evelyn Kao)